Today was the culmination of a month’s work in Marvine (three schools) and Fountain Hill (another three schools) with Allentown Public Theater and Mark and Aiden McKenna’s efforts in front of the schools’ communities. Importantly, this was the chance to document our work for United Way (the funders) and the schools themselves. We made sure that the video cameras were working.
The first one was at Marvine. I led off with The Bear Hunt and some of the school’s verses. I had the all of the kids sit up front and did a fine job. The parents ate it up, the kids were into it and there were many great moments. Mark and Aiden did Billy Goats Gruff with large props, their narration with the kids’ voices chiming in. The large scope and the ‘on stage’ situation worked well. APT followed with a selection from a book, as they acted out the story. I supplied some funky guitar for the end. I finished with All Around the Kitchen with their dances and decided on the fly just to ask the kids there to come up with their moves. Visually, it was great, with APT folks coming up and dancing with the kids.
The second show was at Fountain Hill in the cavernous gym. There was a much bigger turnout for this one, with parents and siblings sitting on the bleachers. It was the same routine and the effect was wonderful, especially with a larger group of kids. Both The Bear Hunt and All Around the Kitchen were smashes with parents filming the whole thing. Many, many delightful moments.
The Fountain Hill kids came up with a Red Tornado for their Bear Hunt addition and before the show, one of the teachers came up with a finger-painting of a red tornado. Again, exactly the response that a Teaching Artist wants: to expand the music into visual arts, movement and more. Multiple intelligences!
My fellow artists thanked me for my work today with Mark saying that it was great that I opened and closed the show. Frankly, I agree. Great connection with the kids and audience, wonderful energy and visuals and a sense of community at both venues. It’s what I do so I’m not aware of it when I’m in the moment.
Doug Roysdon emceed the affair and connected the dots, saying it was important that the teachers, the kids, the artists, the school district and the parents really came together to make this a success. This was the proof of what we are trying to do and we pulled it off wonderfully.
There’s lots to unpack in this month-long session and the three organizations hope to distill it at our monthly TA of LV meeting in August. Good work in the community.